Yes, yes, I know that’s TOO long of a title. But did you spin the wheel and solve the puzzle correctly? That’s right, Very Special Readers! Lisa Frank is working on a biopic about her life. It will be part cartoon, part live action. Kinda like Space Jam? TBH I’m scared and excited all at the same time. I’ll probably be the first in line for a ticket. I’ll also probably take notes on a notepad while eating a big box of gummy bears (providing me both the sugar high and memory recall tips necessary to report back to you). Oh pleaaaaase, oh pleaaaaase let this go into production, 2017! Don’t tease me with this pipe dream.
First of all, this is a LENGTHY post and it’s a little more serious than my usual fare. So please skip the hottest Buzzfeed “long form” post and read this instead (while you’re pretending to work at your desk. Happy Friday!)
Before we go any further, please watch this music video. It also has some introductory information to today’s very special movie.
So, I have to admit that I was very conflicted about reviewing this movie namely because: it is SO dumb and because I love it SO much. And I don’t even love it because it’s so bad (not like I love Carnousaur 2) but I legitimately LOVE this movie. Also, this movie features Pat Benatar’s most underrated song ever “Invincible,” which is also my #2 driving song. The #1 being “Power of Love.”
Several things happened within the past week that convinced me to write this post:
- I watched the debate and saw Donald Trump speak for far longer than I ever care to ever again in my entire existence. And I watched him rudely interrupt a far more qualified woman for much of that debate.
- Secondly, Stephanie from Listful Thinking did a very funny but sobering video about how few movies past the Bechdel Test.
- A man somehow thought that a successful approach to flirting with me would involve some combination of following an insult with a compliment.
- I went to church with a friend and sat in a class full of women who talked about how WOMEN are tempting rape by wearing revealing clothing. They somehow felt that saying “it’s no excuse but it’s a temptation” absolved them of blaming the victim or perpetuating the rape culture that directly affects them as women. And I sat their disgusted with myself for saying nothing because I didn’t know how to turn to the woman next to me who has been like a second mother to me for my entire life and ask her how she could agree with this crazy talk.And that’s when I realized, this movie is important. Campy, yes. Well-written, no. But it’s important.
Billie Jean (Helen Slater) and her brother, Binx (Christian Slater), are on their way to a lake near their home when a group of guys see them and decide to follow Binx’s Honda Elite Scooter because they think Billie Jean is hot. As they follow them, they become increasingly aggressive. One dude is literally crawling over the hood of the car as they ride down the highway, another snaps pictures of her.
When Billie Jean and Binx stop at a drive-in, so do her harassers. At first they mostly pick on Binx. But when Billie Jean doesn’t respond to their sexual advances, they get aggressive with her too. When one of them grabs her, Binx shouts at him “get your hands off that” and it’s unclear to everyone, perhaps Binx included, as to whether he’s referring to the bike or his sister.
I first saw this movie when I was ten. It was fifteen years after it came out and that was over fifteen years ago. I wish I could say “how far we’ve come, but Billie Jean’s impassively polite reaction to this banal harassment strikes me as utterly timeless.
Binx throws his shake on the guy, who we later learn is Hubie Pyatt, and they flee on his scooter. Billie Jean looks shocked that Binx tossed his drink on this dude–most likely because Hubie Pyatt has a reputation for being untouchable. His father is a wealthy store owner, whereas Billie Jean and Binx live in a trailer with their mother.
Hubie and his friends track Billie Jean and Binx down shortly thereafter. Hubie steals Binx’s scooter while he and Billie Jean are swimming. Remember, Hubie’s pal with the camera? He doesn’t miss the opportunity to take some more shots of Billie Jean as she and Binx race out of the water.
Billie Jean tries to file a police report but the Officer Ringwald (played by Peter Coyote) tells her that Hubie was probably just trying to get her attention and will most likely return the scooter. She returns home to find both Binx beaten and his scooter destroyed.
Billie Jean decides to give Hubie the bill for the repairs. When he won’t listen to her, she talks to his father–who tries to rape her “in exchange” for giving her $50. Binx walks in on this happening. He doesn’t realize what’s going on at first because Billie Jean and Mr. Pyatt are in the office above the store. Believing Billie Jean won’t be successful in getting Mr. Pyatt to hand over the money, Binx decides to help himself to the cash register, where he also finds a gun.
Meanwhile, Billie Jean breaks away from Mr. Pyatt. Binx sees them and threatens Mr. Pyatt with the gun. Mr. Pyatt tells him that the gun is unloaded. Binx looks at the gun curiously and squeezes the trigger, shooting Mr. Pyatt in the arm. Binx, Billie Jean,and a couple of friends decide to run away and be outlaws. From this point on, the movie slides quickly down a slippery slope of melodrama and camp, which is actually pretty fun. But it does diminish the sobering first ten minutes of the film.
Billie Jean and her crew run around doing “outlaw things.” They go to the mall and leave IOUs for walkie-talkies. Shortly after seeing this movie, I requested to leave an IOU for a notebook and was informed that this is definitely not an acceptable practice. They also squat in a mansion, which is pretty cool. There’s even a cool teenager, Lloyd, who lives in the mansion. He even offers to be their hostage, so they can gain a little leverage. While at the mansion, they watch the news and learn that Billie Jean is famous. Meanwhile, Mr. Pyatt capitalizes on her fame by selling Billie Jean memorabilia.
Remember how I said things get campy? The entire motivation for the scene below is that Billie Jean saw several minutes of Saint Joan on television and decided to cut her hair and film a video–which basically means she’s a teenage girl like any other. She’s struggling to find her own voice, so she takes on one that gives her more resources than the one she started out with.
She also gives herself a catchphrase. And unfortunately, to see her video manifesto you’ll have to watch it on VHS like it’s 1985…
And it’s at some point after this that Billie Jean becomes some sort of Christ figure. She’s recognized everywhere she goes as a symbol of truth, fairness, and justice. She even helps rescue a child from his abusive father.
As Billie Jean and her friends flee one neighborhood in a hail of bullets (**eye-roll**) one of the girls in Billie Jean’s group thinks she’s been shot, but really she’s just gotten her first period. Man, I’m all for the triumph of the female spirit but are you kidding me? She gets her first period in the middle of a gunfight and we have to stop and talk about how great it is? Like pass me a tampon and let’s move on, I’m a freaking outlaw motherfu**r. Also, shout out to The Simpsons‘s Yeardley Smith for playing the girl who gets her period.
Eventually, Billie Jean turns in two of her friends for their own safety. So this leaves only Billie Jean, Lloyd, and Binx. But in the midst of an argument while trying to steal a car (Billie Jean doesn’t want to but Binx and Lloyd insist it’s necessary) Billie Jean become separated from her friends.
Left only to rely upon the kindness of strangers, Billie Jean realizes exactly how big of a celebrity she’s become. Girls are cutting their hair like her and turning themselves in at police stations like this is Spartacus. Dozens of teenagers give her safe passage like she’s traveling on the underground railroad. But when we remember that this was all about a rich kid bashing a motor scooter, it’s hard to believe this became a phenomenon.
Those are of course not the real stakes, but no one knows what really happened. Billie Jean video manifesto didn’t talk about the sexual harassment and near sexual assault she experienced at the beginning of the movie. As far as anyone knows, she’s just a very passionate anti-property damage advocate with a cool haircut.
It largely seems that this celebrity safe passage is meant to serve as an opportunity to play an extended montage over the full length of Pat Benatar’s theme for the movie. Ultimately, she finds Binx and Lloyd at the abandoned miniature golf course where they spent their first night as fugitives way back at the beginning of the movie. When she rejoins her friends, Billie Jean admits that she’s lost her sense of self in all of this. The Joan of Arc persona that was once so liberating has taken over everything and she can no longer be a normal person.
The next day, she agrees to meet with the police publicly and to make a statement. In anticipation of Billie Jean’s arrival, a crowd of gawkers and fans alike gather at the beach around Mr. Pyatt’s store–her supporters cavalierly purchase memorabilia from the man who couldn’t buy her and is selling her instead.
But having been betrayed earlier when attempting to meet with the police and Mr. Pyatt, Billie Jean concocts a rouse. Binx will dress as Billie Jean and walk their “hostage” toward the police, while Billie Jean stands in the crowd incognito. Unfortunately, Hubie Pyatt is standing near the front of the crowd and realizes their trick. Binx pulls at a toy gun to try to scare Hubie away and is shot by the police. In potentially the most melodramatic scene in the movie (though it is tough to say with any certainty since there are so many) Billie Jean chases after the ambulance in a ridiculous brown, curly, mop of a wig.
Eventually the ambulance is out of her reach and she realizes she’s in front of Mr. Pyatt’s store, where people are browsing merchandise covered with her likeness.
It’s at this point that I have to ask, what exactly is this commenting on? Is it celebrity? Mob mentality? A really extreme example of subjugation? Or maybe this movie got so caught up in making an “important point” that it became a soap opera with nothing to say. And then Billie Jean sees Mr. Pyatt. She pulls off the wig and approaches him alone, just as she did earlier in the movie. But this time there are plenty of witnesses. And this time she’s a celebrity who get a lot of press. She confronts Mr. Pyatt and learns that it was Lloyd’s father who paid for the scooter’s repairs. Trying to save face, Mr Pyatt gives her a ton of cash “for [her] troubles.”
Okay, so now is probably a good time for me to share some essential plot information that I’ve left out thus far. Remember that cop from earlier, Ringwald? The one who didn’t take Billie Jean’s police report seriously? He realized as soon as he heard about Binx shooting Mr. Pyatt that he had ruined the investigation. The more time that Ringwald has spent with the Pyatts the more he realizes that Billie Jean and Binx are just scared kids who were bullied by a very sleazy adult. In fact, the entire reason she agrees to show up at the beach is that Ringwald tracks her down at the miniature golf course and promises that he wants them all safe and will get Binx’s scooter fixed “better than new.”
Bille Jean has always said she wants Mr. Pyatt to pay them back because it’s only fair that the person responsible for the scooter damage be the one to pay for the repairs. Only, he’s not responsible for the scooter damage. His son is, but Billie Jean’s not on a rampage to get this obviously wealthy kid to fork over some of his allowance. And that’s because it was so obviously not about the scooter in the first place. Even when the scooter is fixed and Binx is definitely not going to jail, it’s still of the upmost importance to her that the money came from Mr. Pyatt.
So why didn’t she just go ahead and expose him when she made that “fair is fair” video? Well go ahead and say I’m giving this movie more credit than it’s due, haters, but I think it’s fair to say at this point that I’ve made a cottage industry out of over-analyzing low-brow culture. (And by cottage industry I mean I use free WordPress hosting and do not make any money off of this. If I did, the first thing I would do would be to remove the Donald Trump ad that I saw on here yesterday. Ugh. I’m so sorry, America. I don’t want that smarmy face on this website anymore than you do.)
Simply put, Billie Jean didn’t confront Mr. Pyatt in her video because she wasn’t ready to yet. This whole campy-mess of a movie is her path to finding those words. What we’re basically seeing here is a really heavy-handed coming of age and recovery from trauma all rolled into one. Billie Jean starts off as a girl who doesn’t really say anything when she’s uncomfortable. Then she becomes some neo-Joan of Arc vigilante who is all about “fairness” (like in general and somewhat materialistically at that). And then finally, she pulls off that damn muppet wig and straight up calls that jackass out for trying to violate her. And when she does that, she’s transcending “Bille Jean the Legend,” to become a much more complex Billie Jean, the person.
And I’ll just let you watch what happens next
Then the movie just kind of ends. Binx and Billie Jean are at a ski lodge in Vermont and still sporting matching haircuts. Roll Credits.
So here’s why this movie is important: This is a movie about rape. It’s a movie about Mr.Pyatt using power (wealth, gender, age) to take advantage of Billie Jean sexually. It’s a movie about how she stands up to him with integrity and becomes a stronger person because of it. Perhaps the most remarkable thing The Legend of Billie Jean does is trick everyone into thinking it is a movie about a scooter. And maybe it needed to do that in order to be greenlit into a 1980’s teen movie. Maybe it would even need to trick us to be made today.
Or maybe it’s so effective because Helen Slater took the character of Billie Jean and gave her an incredible arc under harrowing circumstances even if everything else around her was glam makeup and Pat Benatar music. But I have to say that there’s something very powerful in this movie. It’s a movie that made me feel like I could kick some serious ass when I was a 10-year-old kid. And it kind of makes me feel like I could kick some ass today too.
Guys, we need to talk about the original music in Teen Witch. I previously posted about the *stellar* costumes in this movie, but I neglected to give the soundtrack the respect it deserves. The Very Special Blog leaves no pop culture stone unturned! And thus I give you, the definitive Teen Witch song ranking from worst to best.
High School Blues
Not to be mistaken for a New Kids on the Block audition tape, this song introduces us to the the resident group of “tough guy” rappers. It’s also making it painfully obvious to me that I don’t remember seeing any black people in this movie.
Get Up and Move (stop this video at 2:42 or spoilers!)
The second half of this is okay, but the beginning is too boring for words. Get up and move? Sorry, I’m already asleep.
Shame (The Harvest Dance Song)
This song plays while Louise changes into her “cool dance outfit.” Shout out to the creepy DJ who encourages everyone to “sow some wild oats” and the dance committee that was so committed to the harvest theme that there are literally bales of hay on the dance floor. This song is ambient and catchy and I would dance to it at an 80’s party.
This is the Teen Witch version of “Time of My Life,” which is to say cheaper and cheesier. This song runs at 2 minutes and 45 seconds but somehow manages to feel like a solid eight minutes. It’s also somehow the climax of the movie, so there’s no avoiding it.
I Like Boys
This is a “cheer,” apparently. But it’s cute and I feel like whoever made the stage version of the movie must have had this song in mind specifically. It seems like this song would be right at home in Legally Blonde: The Musical
Never Gonna Be the Same Again
This is the film’s opening. The OPENING CREDITS, you guys! I for one, would like to thank this song for setting up the bizarre wonderland that is the rest of this movie. Also, I’d rate this song higher if it were sung by Taylor Dayne.
If this movie is a cult classic, then this song is a cult classic in and of itself. What to say about “Top That”? I think this masterpiece speaks to itself and has clearly spoken to an entire generation of movie watchers. I’m included both the original and a shot-for-shot remake featuring Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat.
This song is the quintessential Teen Witch song. It is the epitome of bubblegum, but play this when you’re having a rough day and tell me it doesn’t get you back on your feet.
Unfortunately, some fool decided to NOT release an original soundtrack to this film. But here is a super cut of “I Like Boys,” “Top That,” “Popular Girl,” and “My Finest Hour.” So go ahead. Have yourself a little Teen Witch dance party
Tonight on a very special episode of The Very Special Blog, I provide you with more in depth analysis than you ever wanted on the 1987 tour-de-force, Adventures in Babysitting…
I was talking to my BFF Anne about how I haven’t watched any of the Pitch Perfect movies because I was afraid that they would give me a very specific type of FOMO. I call it the “I want to be up there and randomly signing with my friends! FOMO” though this can also happen with things involving choreographed dances. Suffice it to say, I have a really odd mixture of FOMO and adoration every time I watch Teen Witch.
Adventures in Babysitting also gives me a little FOMO and I think that’s somehow got a lot to do with this opening scene:
This all starts off with Chris (national treasure, Elisabeth Shue) prepping for a big date. Her boyfriend cancels on her at the very last minute, telling her that he has to babysit his kid sister and she’s “contagious” so Chris cannot come over and help. Chris’s best friend, Brenda, calls bullshit on the situation. But Chris won’t hear it. And with no plans for the evening, she goes to babysit for the Andersons.
So we head over to the Anderson home to meet the kids. But one of the kids, Brad, is like 15 years old and I can’t understand for the life of me why he’s not babysitting his little sister. In the opening sequence, we established that this is the kind of movie in which older male children babysit their younger female siblings. So like does one have to be 18 to babysit a younger sibling? Cause I’m pretty sure a 15 year old can make sure that an 8 year old doesn’t burn down the house. If this is not the case, then I think we all need to have a serious discussion about The Babysitters-Club.
The little girl, Sara, is obsessed with Thor, so obviously she’s cool and probably my favorite character in this movie. She’s also got a backpack featuring Gizmo from Gremlins.
Now, there are some obvious problems with this script. The most glaring of which I find to be an extended exchange between the Anderson children, in which Brad tells Sara that Thor is a “total homo” and Sara repeatedly tries to make him “take-it back.” My first thought is of my friend’s fiancee, who as a closeted person in 1987 went alone to the movie theater to see Adventures in Babysitting. Obviously, he already had to go to see this movie on the DL since it isn’t the most “manly” movie to attend and I imagine it must have felt pretty shitty to see a light-comedy shit on your sexual orientation within the first ten minutes. Plus Anthony Rapp, from Rent, shows up a little later on in the film in a major supporting role as Brad’s friend Darryl. I felt like homophobic lines in the script must have been tough for him as well, and actually he commented on it in his Reddit AMA, which you can check out here. He basically says that he feels that it was true to the time and would not exist in a script today. I don’t feel like I would be so zen about it if it were me but to each his own.
Shortly into her baby-sitting job, Chris gets a call from Brenda–who has run away from home. She’s calling from the bus station in downtown Chicago and she’s distraught. In what must be the most poorly thought-out plan ever, Brenda has spent all of her money on the cab to the bus station and thus has no money to purchase a ticket. She can’t leave kids at home because they threaten to rat her out, so she takes them with her to Chicago.
While on the expressway, they have a tire blowout. First of all, mad props to Chris for safely navigating a station wagon full of children to the side of the interstate without full tire traction. Secondly, she’s forgotten her wallet and they have no money to pay for a tow. They’re all creeped out when a tow truck driven by a man with a hook stops to pick them up. I mean I guess it IS a classic horror story trope, but like they’re really rude to this nice man who’s just trying to help them. Finally, Chris realizes she’s been an asshole. She apologizes and the man, John Pruitt, offers to tow them and by them a new tire. Everything’s good until John Pruitt gets a call on his CB radio. His lady’s been stepping out on him, her lover’s car is in front of their place, and he thinks that driving around with a bunch of random kids in his tow truck is the perfect time to seek his revenge.
John Pruitt runs into a house with a gun and starts firing shots. A man with his pants open falls backwards out of a window and onto the porch. I seriously don’t think this would pass standards for a kids movie in 2016.While John Pruitt, chases his wife’s lover out into the street, Chris et al get into the lover’s car–which by the way has been carjacked. But it’s like carjacked by THE nicest carjacker on the planet. They ask him to let them off at the next corner and he’s like not going to do it because it’s a bad neighborhood. He’s going to take them to the train station instead. And then Chris is all like “Do you promise me you won’t hurt these kids?” which is like something a little rude and insulting to some dude who just promised to take you somewhere safe and like even if he’s NOT going to do that, then why the heck are you challenging him while he literally holds your life in his hands??
Since he actually is a nice guy, he promises not to hurt any of them. And then he takes them to a chop shop. The rest of the guys there are not so nice, so the kids all sneak out through the rafters of the building, lest the be murdered. But Darryl swipes a Playboy from the chop shop. If not for this, I honestly think the chop shop guys might have just let them get away. Instead they chase them through some back alleys and into a night club. Chris and the kids run on stage in the middle of blues set in order to avoid their would be assassins. So then the band makes Chris sing. It’s really awkward. Like really awkward.
After leaving the nightclub, Chris spots Mr. Anderson’s office building, where the kids parents are currently at a function. She thinks they should give themselves up, but then she sees Darryl talking to a child prostitute and remembers that she’s supposed to pick up Brenda or else she may face a similar fate.
Brenda, in another idiot move, took off her glasses at the train station and is now legally blind. She mistakes a rat for a kitten and probably needs to get some rabies shots as soon as he gets back to the suburbs.
Meanwhile, the kids have evaded the chop shop guys and made it safely to the El train. But their victory is short lived because the train car they’ve picked is also the site of a rumble between to rival gangs. (Also, I fully expected there to be a rumble on a subway car in The Warriors but that straight up did not happen. Seems like a missed opportunity.) Anyway, Chris politely asks the gang members to wait to fight each other until she can get the kids off the train at the next stop and they call her a bitch. Then Brad is all like “don’t call her a bitch.” And then some dude stabs Brad in the foot with a switchblade and tells him not to “f*ck with the Lords of Hell.” Chris takes the knife out of his foot and threatens the gang member with it, saying “Don’t fuck with the babysitter.” So they hop off the train at the next stop (which just so happens to be the hospital).
At the hospital, they bump into none other than John Pruitt. He’s paid for all of the repairs to their car. (He banged it up pretty good when he hopped the curb chasing down his wife’s lover. Oh and he also accidentally shot the front windshield.) Unfortunately, this leaves him with no extra cash to pay for the flat tire and they’ll have to come up with $50 to pay the owner of the garage.
Then they pass a frat party and Darryl runs away from the group to join the festivities, which by the sounds of it involve a bad Huey Lewis cover band doing a bad cover of Soul Survivors’s “Expressway to Your Heart.” Also, Sara has to pee. So Chris is all like yeah you can use the bathroom at the frat party. Uh, okay. I mean yikes. I’d hate to see that bathroom. (Also, at the party there is a whole subplot about how Chris has been mistaken for a Playboy centerfold because she looks exactly like Miss March and yadda yadda yadda that’s all I’ll say about that.)
So while one teen boy is missing in a frat house and another teen boy waits in line for the bathroom with his little sister, Chris decides to slow dance with a fraternity brother. Cut to: Darryl and some college student who is dangerously close to committing statutory rape.
On a side note is “Gimme Shelter” the most used song ever in television/film? It even makes an appearance in this movie as Chris’s new frat bro boyfriend drives them to the garage to pick up the car. He’s also loaned them $45 but claims that’s all he can find. He is so obviously a dude with a trust fund though, so I’m skeptical that this was seriously all he could come up with.
As it turns out, the owner of the garage looks exactly like Thor. But he’s not willing to accept $45 for a $50 job and instead crushes a little girls dreams by demanding an extra $5 from her babysitter before he will release their car. (He is played by a very young Vincent Donofrio and I gotta say he’s looking fine.) Eventually he comes around much like Mean Joe from that old coke commercial. But like if the coke was actually a Thor helmet. Watch it for yourself here:
But God forbid this movie ever actually end, so we cut to the chop shop guys stalking the babysitter and crew yet again.
Also, remember that guy from the very opening scene? Yeah well Chris spots his car at the fancy French restaurant where he was supposed to take her for dinner. He’s with some other girl. Chris and her charges tell him off. He’s such a scum bucket so this is really rewarding to watch. Oh yeah and in the meantime, they’ve managed to misplace Sara–who wandered away from the restaurant to look inside a toy store window and is now scaling the side of the building in order to avoid the chop shop guys. Oh yeah and that building just so happens to be where her parents are attending a party which is the entire reason they hired a babysitter in the first place.
Miraculously, Chris and company make it home first and the parents are none the wiser. Also, Sara left a roller skate in the back seat of the frat bro’s car. So he shows up at the house just as Chris is leaving and they live happily ever after.
Oh and there’s a whole subplot about Brad having a schoolboy crush on Chris. I left that out even though it’s pretty heavily covered in the movie. But someone else can write a post about that.
And there is a throw away line to the parents at the end of the movie that “Brad stayed home.” I guess we can assume that he was meant to go out that night and that Chris was only hired to babysit Sara, so that does indeed lend more credibility to this setup than I originally acknowledged.
Very Special Lesson: To all the moms out there, drop your 17 year old daughter off at her babysitting assignments and under no circumstances leave her lone with your station wagon. Furthermore, having sufficient amounts of cash on hand at all times could have solved most of these problems.
Also, this soundtrack is awesome. Highly recommend it.
Lastly, has anyone seen this Disney reboot of Adventures in Babysitting? Tell me all about it in the comments.
I really don’t like slasher movies. But this was a “cool teenager” movie that I wasn’t allowed to see as an elementary schooler back in 1997, so I’ve always been a bit curious.
The movie starts off with a beauty pageant. Sarah Michelle Geller (Helen) is winning, but I think we’re supposed to think that she thinks it’s a bullshit contest. We cut to Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Ray), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie), and Ryan Philippe (Barry) sitting not with the crowd but rather alone in the balcony, seeming to imply both literally and figuratively that they are “above” this small town pageantry. (Oh yeah, VS Readers, this is a critical analysis kind of post.)
Julie is sad that she and Ray will probably split up when they go to college at the end of the Summer. But he tells her that “the success rate of high school sweetheart relationship is higher than any other type of relationship” and she tells him to “cite your source.” So then he puts his hand over his heart like his heart is his source and I would ordinarily puke but Freddie Prinze, Jr. can get away with a lot of stuff in my book. So then she takes off her cardigan sweater, which I guess is like BIG. I mean maybe she just ALWAYS wears a cardigan and taking it off is like the equivalent of removing one’s pants in her world because Ray says, “Are you sure?” and she nods (aw I mean I appreciate the clear consent, so yay) and then they have sex. SO I don’t know how we got from cardigan removal to “are you sure you want to have sex with me?” but at least they are on the same page and that’s all that matters. Or like wait. Maybe she was just saying yes she’s sure she’d like to remove her cardigan…erm well maybe a teen movie from 1997 is not the best source of guidance on this topic.
Anyway, Barry gets so drunk that he can’t drive his BMW home. But rather than just chilling in the back seat and letting his friend drive his sorry drunk ass home, he sticks his head out of the sun roof and drops an open bottle of alcohol all over Ray’s lap–causing him to careen into a pedestrian, who admittedly was crossing a dark road on a curve but still… So because they are selfish bastards who don’t seem to be concerned as to whether or not this dude has a family that may be worried about his disappearance, they decide to dump the body in the ocean.
But before than can do any body-dumping, David from Roseanne shows up as some dude named Max. Julie and Ray get rid of him by playing it cool and acting like Barry is just casually drunk vomiting on the side of the road. Ray decides that speaking like a middle aged country clubber is the best way not to arouse suspicion and says thing like “What can I do for you, Max?” and “We’ll be seeing you Max.”
In a last minute moment of “compassion” they decide to check this dude’s wallet to see who he is. But when Helen goes to check it out, he reaches out and grabs her. Time to call an ambulance, right? Nope, instead they beat him back and toss him in the water. But he’s grabbed her beauty pageant crown and now Barry has to dive in to the water and reclaim the evidence. He’s like definitely still alive under the water and opens his eyes. So Barry flips out and leaves him to drown. These people are horrible and I can’t wait to see them be terrorized for the next hour and fifteen minutes.
They all vow never to speak of the incident again, but that doesn’t last very long because about a year later Julie gets a note: “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER!” (For you close readers, you’ll recognize that as the title of this film.) So she starts rounding up the team. Unsurprisingly, they don’t speak to each other anymore and they’re all miserable. They immediately think it was Max, so Barry beats him up. This is obviously just a red herring and my money is one of the four-some betraying the others.
The someone tries to run over Barry with his own car. That person gets out of the car with a hook but doesn’t kill him. This is all very clearly to send a message.
Julie and Helen decide to play amateur detective and head out to David Egan’s family home. (David Egan is the dead guy BTW. They found out his name from a newspaper article.) They run into Anne Heche who seems them peering through a window. They make up some phony story about needing to call AAA and she doesn’t seem to care that they were about to break in her window. She’s David’s sister and she answers all of their inappropriately probing questions without ever appearing to become suspicious. Actually, she may be suspicious because she runs out to their car to give them back the cigarettes that Helen left behind. They’re just sitting there chatting while running a car that they said wouldn’t start.
More shenanigans ensue. Someone cuts off Helen’s hair in the middle of the night. Someone puts Max’s dead body with crabs in Julie’s car. And Ray gets a threatening note. Barry is convinced that Ray is terrorizing them all. Crap, that was my guess. But it’s too early so it’s probably another red herring. But even though this person is clearly willing to murder them all, they still want to track him down and talk to him? So Helen rides in the 4th of July parade on the pageant float while Barry sits conspicuously at the front, scanning the crowd for any shady characters.
Also, am I really supposed to believe that it is July in North Carolina and all of these lead characters are wearing sweaters?
So Julie goes back to speak to the sister again. She once again shares a ton of info. And this gradually causes Julie to realize that the man they hit with the car is not David Egan. In fact, David also got a scary note saying “I WILL NEVER FORGET LAST SUMMER!” His sister thought it was a suicide note because David’s girlfriend past away the previous summer…but basically it seems like there’s a weird super-human killer out there in this North Carolina town and it’s not Robert DeNiro. (Cape Fear is still giving me nightmares.)
Anyway, while the slasher is busy killing Barry and Helen, Julie reads more newspaper article and figures out that the killer is most likely the father of David Egan’s girlfriend.
You know what guys, I think Ray is up to no good. I do NOT trust him. Omg wait. Now I’m not sure. Some dude just punched Ray in the face because he was chasing after Julie and like then he told her to run to his boat and she did but it’s so obviously A TRAP. Ugh, yep. She’s like definitely on the killer’s boat now. But luckily Ray helps her out because he is in fact, not the killer. It was all very harrowing and I would recount it but I feel like this is already way to long and I did scream at a level audible to my neighbors at multiple points in this movie. So basically, the bad guy’s arm gets caught in some kind of like rig on the boat. (I don’t know boat things so I can’t explain better…) and then he like gets strung upside down by the rig and then lands in the water, presumably drowning (again). Anyway, when the cops show up they can only retrieve his severed hand still holding the hook. The implication is that he’s hanging around still trying to kill them. This is confirmed by the last couple of minutes in the movie in which he stalks Julie at school and leaves a threatening note for her on the shower door, “I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER,” which is a movie I probably will not be watching.
Very Special Lesson: Do your research – if they’d read all of the available newspaper articles at the start of this movie, then they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. Also,
I have an HBONow largely because Silicon Valley is the funniest show on television. But I’ve also been justifying the membership cost by expanding my movie horizons. That’s how I found Satisfaction, a 1988 film starring Justine Bateman, Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, and a bunch of other people. Julia Roberts caught my eye on the movie poster, Liam Neeson lent this a shred of credibility, but it was Justine Bateman who drew me in. I love her and I want to go back to 1988 and marry her, but I realize I’ll have to settle for this movie instead.
Justine is the lead singer of a rock band. They spend the first few minutes of the movie proving how tough they are. This includes: throwing a jay-walking citation in the trash and ripping the radio antenna off of their car to use as a weapon.
And why is this weapon necessary? They’re engaged in a turf war with some teenage boys because they “popped” a vending machine over on Freemont.
Well, like how are you going to listen to the radio now?
But actually this is really high stakes. This dude pulls a knife and one of the girls has to whip his hand with the radio antenna. And then he hits their van with his van and their van ends up in the river. (But don’t worry, the girls jump out just in time.)
So what kind of music does this tough-girl band play?
They play covers of late 60’s music. Justine plays the cowbell. She also does all of her own singing. (It’s not great.)
Also, they’re so hardcore that their guitarist is addicted to (check-it) MARIJUANA! (I sense an intervention to follow.) The first major conflict in this film is that the bar they’re supposed to play at is closed on the first night of their summer-long gig.
So they go to some random house where I guess the bar owner lives? I have no idea. But they’re greeted by an angry Doberman Pinscher, so the stoned guitarist sings him “Amazing Grace” until he is docile. Ohhhh okay, so this is Liam Neeson’s house. He has a lot of Gold Records and is apparently in charge of the auditioning bands for this bar residency.
HOLD ON A MINUTE. I felt like the stoned guitarist had such a familiar voice. It turns out that she is the singing voice of Jem!! Maybe I judged this movie too hard. Plus, the stoned guitarist is also on pills, so they’re starting to raise the dramatic stakes.
Fake-Jem is the best part of this movie. Well, pretty much no one else has a character. Actually, she doesn’t really either since her whole character is a drug-addict gimmick. But she really won me over when she had a long discussion with the Doberman Pinscher about how he may be a narc because he wasn’t interested in her pot.
Ugh, now I’m listening to Justine Bateman butcher “Dedicated to the One I Love.” Really, if they were going to nominate a Family Ties cast member to head up a girl rock group movie, it should have been Tina Yothers.
Um then Justine Bateman (who cannot swim) jumps into the water after Liam Neeson (who is clearly not drowning). And now she’s only wearing his shirt. And they’re playing that light 80’s hookup music. But like this movie just clearly stated that she graduated from high school RIGHT before coming to this rich dude’s house.
Omg I just saw Justine Bateman’s underwear which means Liam Neeson probably just saw Justine Bateman’s underwear too. But then she goes upstairs to change into her now-dry jeans. And she’s just like asleep in the bed. (Oh yeah, he’s making all of the band members sleep in a crappy cabin that is mostly full of fishing poles.) And then Liam Neeson just goes downstairs to write a song.
Oh thank goodness, we cut to fake-Jem singing “Mr. Big Stuff.” This is by far their best cover song so far. This also comes with a montage of them having fun on the beach, including but not limited to Justine Bateman and Liam Neeson horesback riding in the surf.
But actually, this is the worst script ever. It’s so horrible. Although, they did manage to get Debbie Harry to make a cameo. She’s Liam Neeson’s friend who acts all icy to Justine Bateman. But he’s all like noooo it’s not like that. So he and Justine make out and then we have to endure her singing over an acoustic guitar in which a lyric is actually “like the birds sing to be free talk to me.”
Poor Fake-Jem overdoses. Ugh nooo she’s the only character I care about. Why, cruel world???? While she recovers, the rest of the group disposes of all of her drugs. She wakes up and discovers this and can only yell, “You mothers!” (Because anything else would have been too much for the PG-13 rating.
Ugh, okay so how can I sum up this awful script:
Liam Neeson breaks things off with Justine Bateman and she freaks out and doesn’t want to go to school or tour with her band. So the band decides to prove to her that they are there for her. The drug addict says, “I’m not gonna kill myself no more.” And Julia Roberts says, “I’m blowing off Frankie” (who is the boyfriend she’s been talking about marrying for like the past 30 minutes straight).
But then the dude whose van they stole (oops yeah they stole a van, did I mention that?) shows up to basically murder them. Also, the tour guy only wants Justine to tour and sing with studio musicians. But that’s seriously the least plausible part of this crapy-film because Fake-Jem is the only one with any musical talent in this group.
So Justine goes back to the city to go to college and hang out with her band. She tells Liam that she’s keeping his shirt and by forever. I guess that worked out for the best since she’s like eighteen and he’s like thirty-four and them moving in together like she wanted would have been a disaster.
Oh okay, this was brought to you by NBC, the same people who brought you Family Ties. So that explains a lot.
Very Special Lesson: Don’t watch this movie. If you think “Hey, that doesn’t sound half bad,” watch Girls Just Want to Have Fun instead.
It’s girl scout cookie season, so I felt like this would be the perfect time to pay a visit to a movie that is near and dear to my heart.
For those of you that have managed to never see this movie (omg, you can rent it on iTunes for $2.99. Go, I’ll wait.) You’re not really going to stop reading this and watch the movie? Fine, your loss.
The Basics– Shelley Long (Diane from Cheers) is going through a divorce with Craig T. Nelson (Coach from Coach) and she’s pretty much lost her place in life because of it. By the way, she has insanely red hair in this movie, like so red it must have been the inspiration for Valerie Cherish’s hair. But I think that’s supposed to make her kind-of resemble her daughter (introducing Jenny Lewis). In order to be more present in her daughter’s life, she becomes the troop leader for the Beverly Hills branch of “The Wilderness Girls.” It’s a fish out of water story but it’s also a coming-of-age story–not the kind of “coming of age” you do when you’re a kid but the kind that happens when you’re an adult and you realize that you need to re-learn how to be an adult. In short, it’s awesome. Why is this not an Oscar winning film??
I mentioned the divorce above, but it’s so much worse than that. Basically Craig T. Nelson is no longer in love with Shelley Long because she didn’t turn out to meet his expectations of who he expected her to be when they got married like over a decade ago. So he’s a jerk. But she’s also mad at him because she supported him all through law school and he ended up being a muffler salesman.
Poor Jenny Lewis is the most mature person in her family. Her mother wakes her up in the middle of the night to ask her about the woman entering the guest house (where her father is staying during the divorce). Yuck. But Jenny is all cool about it and tells her mom to stop spying on her dad and the realtor (who it turns out he is dating but we don’t know that just yet…)
But you have to hand it to Shelley Long, she’s really dedicated to making this Wilderness Girl thing work for her kid–even if that means camping out beneath the Hollywood sign. Or more like “glamping out.” This movie may actually have invented glamping. Right after they finish their fondue and are about to start making espresso over the campfire, it starts to pour buckets of rain all over their campsite. What’s a Wilderness Girl to do?
Check in to the Beverly Hills Hotel and tell the best campfire story ever:
But it’s not all easy for Shelley. I mean sure, she’s got to learn how to help those kids earn some badges but that would be a lot easier without the regional director trying to ruin everything for her. She’s a crabby ex-army nurse who doesn’t like that the Beverly Hills troop isn’t earning dumb traditional badges.
But earn badges for tying knots and first aid when you could earn your badges for:
-Dancing the Freddy
-International Affairs (Laundering Money & Crushing Revolutions)
-Gardening with Glamor
But then it all comes down to the final Jamboree. And that’s the real woods, people. She almost bails but the girls tell her that they need her and they have to follow through on this. So it’s quite literally a game of survival for them now since all they’ve haven’t really earned any of the badges that prepare you for dealing with nature. And on top of all that, they’ve got these really annoying Culver City Red Feathers to deal with.
But it turns out that with a little ingenuity and extra-motivation from having to out-run a skunk, even a sad soon-to-be divorcee from Beverly Hills can learn how to navigate the woods.
Very Special Lesson: This is an inspirational film. And not the kind that requires you to have a special skill (see: any movie about athletes, musicians, prodigies of any kind) or tons of money in which to start a foundation (The First Wives Club). But I watch this movie and think, “Hey, I too could one day be a troop leader and inspire tons of young girls without having to spend too much time experiencing nature.” Thank you, Shelley Long. You’ve inspired me more than you’ll ever know.
Stay tuned next weekend as I trudge through every episode of Fuller House. Wish me luck! I hope I don’t OD on very special lessons!